For the bulk of every Rocky and Bullwinkle episode, moose and squirrel would engage in high concept escapades that satirized geopolitics, contemporary cinema, and the very fabrics of the human condition. With all of that to work with, there's no excuse for why the pair and their Soviet nemeses haven't gotten a decent movie adaptation. But the ingenious Mr. Peabody and his faithful boy Sherman are another story, intercut between Rocky and Bullwinkle segments to teach kids brief history lessons and toss in a nearly lethal dose of puns. Their stories and relationship were much simpler, which means that bringing their shtick to the big screen would entail a lot more invention — always risky when you're dealing with precious material.
For the most part, Mr. Peabody & Sherman handles the regeneration of its heroes aptly, allowing for emotionally substance in their unique father-son relationship and all the difficulties inherent therein. The story is no subtle metaphor for the difficulties surrounding gay adoption, with society decreeing that a dog, no matter how hyper-intelligent, cannot be a suitable father. The central plot has Peabody hosting a party for a disapproving child services agent and the parents of a young girl with whom 7-year-old Sherman had a schoolyard spat, all in order to prove himself a suitable dad. Of course, the WABAC comes into play when the tots take it for a spin, forcing Peabody to rush to their rescue.
Getting down to personals, we also see the left brain-heavy Peabody struggle with being father Sherman deserves. The bulk of the emotional marks are hit as we learn just how much Peabody cares for Sherman, and just how hard it has been to accept that his only family is growing up and changing.
But more successful than the new is the film's handling of the old — the material that Peabody and Sherman purists will adore. They travel back in time via the WABAC Machine to Ancient Egypt, the Renaissance, and the Trojan War, and 18th Century France, explaining the cultural backdrop and historical significance of the settings and characters they happen upon, all with that irreverent (but no longer racist) flare that the old cartoons enjoyed. And oh... the puns.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a f**king treasure trove of some of the most amazingly bad puns in recent cinema. This effort alone will leave you in awe.
The film does unravel in its final act, bringing the science-fiction of time travel a little too close to the forefront and dropping the ball on a good deal of its emotional groundwork. What seemed to be substantial building blocks do not pay off in the way we might, as scholars of animated family cinema, have anticipated, leaving the movie with an unfinished feeling.
But all in all, it's a bright, compassionate, reasonably educational, and occasionally funny if not altogether worthy tribute to an old favorite. And since we don't have our own WABAC machine to return to a time of regularly scheduled Peabody and Sherman cartoons, this will do okay for now.
If nothing else, it's worth your time for the puns.
Follow @Michael Arbeiter
| Follow @Hollywood_com
Minor spoilers to follow.
Tyler Perry's Temptation is the kind of over-the-top drama that leaves you speechless as the credits abruptly begin to roll. Perry doesn't bother trying to cloak his morality tale with details like fully developed characters or insightful dialogue or logic. The heartbreaking story of Judith (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) is introduced by her marriage counselor sister as a warning to all young married woman who have their eyes on someone else. Judith was once a happily married woman who was led into temptation by an intense, rich man who promised to appreciate her in all the ways her husband didn't. Sounds fairly standard, right? Well… no.
Judith works as a therapist for a matchmaking service owned by Janice (Vanessa Williams), a glamorous older woman with a French accent who may or may not be running escorts on the side. Her coworker Ava is played by Kim Kardashian, a true feat of stunt casting that's only made all the more impressive by her inability to inject the slightest bit of emotion into her steady stream of insults. Judith has designs on starting her own practice as a marriage counselor but her husband Brice (Lance Gross) wants to wait until they get more settled. Her frustration comes into full flower soon after a young social media exec comes in to the office to strike up a deal with Janice. Harley (Robbie Jones) begins coming on to Judith almost immediately. At first, she finds it easy to resist. Brice is the only man she's ever been with — a detail that Harley finds amazing — and he's a good man, a sensible guy, and it probably doesn't hurt that he looks like a finely chiseled Greek god. But those perfect oblique muscles will only get him so far: after Brice forgets her birthday for the second year in a row and rejects her advances one night when she wants to get frisky in the kitchen, Harley starts looking a whole lot better.
A large chunk of the movie is spent on a somewhat boring back-and-forth between Harley and Judith, with some extraordinarily strange asides tossed in. For instance, singer and actress Brandy plays Brice's coworker Karen, a haunted young woman who's on the run from an abusive ex. (Did I mention Brice is an incredibly handsome pharmacist?) Their other coworker is an older woman who can be counted on to say something crazy about Valium or lesbians at any given time. You could get whiplash from how quickly the tone goes from comedy to high drama, but at some point the drama transmogrifies into sheer absurdity with a very nasty undertone.
RELATED: Can Tyler Perry Break Out of Tyler Perry?
As you'd guess from the title, religion is a strong theme here, which is par for the course in Perry's films. It's very much a tale of good versus evil, and Perry is an Old Testament-style deity raining hellfire and brimstone down on his characters. It's not enough that they might be unhappy or heartbroken or full of regret, but they must pay dearly and cruelly. At the same time, religion is subject to the movie's tonal whims as well. Judith's mother Sarah (Ella Joyce) is a religious woman who raised her daughter in the church, but by the end of the movie, I wouldn't have been totally surprised to see her try to perform a full-on exorcism.
Besides the rather sadistic treatment of its characters, Temptation has an incredibly troubling scene that kicks off the last third of the movie, when things get really dark and mean. Judith and Harley are returning from a business trip to New Orleans on Harley's private jet. Judith got a makeover before she left (with help from Ava, naturally) and has been partaking of the many adult beverages NOLA has to offer. The flirting gets pretty steamy between them, but when Harley goes to touch and kiss her, she tries to stop him. She tells him no repeatedly and loudly and physically tries to defend herself. "Now you can say you resisted," he tells her, and the scene fades into some sort of embrace. Later, Judith is shell-shocked and tells Harley she never wants to see him again. She goes to take a shower but stops to stare into the foggy mirror. She reflects back on the scene on the plane, but it's… a love scene? Really? I don't even know how to untangle this. There are so many ways to interpret this chain of events, and none of them are acceptable. Any sort of goodwill or patience I'd had for Temptation and its bizarro world disappeared with a poof.
Temptation is worth watching in the same way a movie like Nicholas Sparks' Safe Haven is worth watching: it's such an audaciously ridiculous movie that you have to see it for yourself.
[Photo Credit: KC Bailey/Lionsgate]
You Might Also Like:15 Oscar-Winning Nude Scenes10 Insane 'Star Wars' Moments You Didn't Notice
Life can be tough for movie stars who've faded from public view. Just look at Karen Black. She appeared in some of the most prominent films of the '70s, like Five Easy Pieces, Nashville, The Great Gatsby, and Family Plot. But, despite being regularly employed ever since, her parts got smaller and smaller. Now, she's been struggling to pay for her own cancer treatment. Luckily, though, there are fans who remember her.
Black's husband, Stephen Eckelberry, realized that Black still has a following, so he set up a crowdfunding campaign to help with their medicals bills and finance an experimental treatment in Europe his wife thinks may help her condition. In November of 2010 she was diagnosed with ampullary cancer, which was treated by removing most of her pancreas and having her submit to intense doses of radiation. By the summer of 2011, it seemed she was in remission, but by early 2012 another tumor formed in her lower back that eventually spread to her lungs. What savings they possessed had already been spent on her previous treatment, so, to enable her to travel to Europe to try this different approach, Eckelberry set up a page on GoFundMe.com and established a fundraising goal of $32,000.
Why is the ‘Veronica Mars’ Kickstarter So Polarizing?
"Some of you may remember my wife, Karen Black," Eckelberry wrote in a statement on the page. "She contributed tremendous work as an actress in movies of the seventies and eighties. If you’ve ever enjoyed her work, now is your chance to reach back to Karen – because Karen needs your help.... So here is the big question; why would someone like Karen need money? Yes, she was an actress in movies, but most of the high-paying work dwindled out many years ago. She has a modest pension and medical insurance (thank goodness), but as anyone knows who has fought cancer, that is not enough. In the last two years we have used up all of our savings keeping Karen alive – traveling – treatments, getting people to help her. We have nothing left. And the European treatment is not covered by insurance."
As of March 27, they've already received $45,454 from over 4,000 contributors, so maybe this story will have a Hollywood ending after all.
Follow Christian Blauvelt on Twitter @Ctblauvelt
[Photo Credit: JB Lacroix/WireImage]
You Might Also Like:15 Oscar-Winning Nude Scenes10 Insane 'Star Wars' Moments You Didn't Notice
January is a debaucherous month at Showtime. After all, it's when the network’s trio of serially addicted men — Frank (William H. Macy) on Shameless, Marty (Don Cheadle) on House of Lies, and Hank (David Duchovny) on Californication — all return to the pay-network to get back to the business of being bad. So it's quite fitting that Showtime is labeling Jan. 13, the date that all three shows begin their new seasons, “Sinful Sunday."
But while we’ve got a serial drinker in Frank, a career liar in Marty, and a compulsive fornicator in Hank, the characters are hardly just sinners. Fans of the three series would agree with President of Entertainment at Showtime, David Nevins, who notes Frank, Marty, and Hank are far more layered than your average bad boys. “We try to make sure that all of our characters have a real complexity to them, and that goes for both men and women,” he says.
RELATED: 'Shameless' Season Finale Recap: This is What a Family Looks Like
So while Macy, Cheadle, and Duchovny's roles are characters that could likely only exist on a network like Showtime, Sunday's well-rounded trio impossible to pigeonhole. “I think [Macy and Cheadle] are making full human beings,” Duchovny says. “Across the board, [these characters are] human.” That's likely what makes House of Lies the top performing comedy on Showtime, according to Nevins. It's also probably what brings fans of Hank Moody back season in and season out and keeps Shameless fans — a notoriously obsessive set — as rabid as ever for more Gallagher family hijinks. Of course, each of the series' leading men have their own ideas about what keeps the fans coming back for more.
Your Friendly, Neighborhood Rascal: Shameless's Frank Gallagher
As the patriarch of Shameless’ Gallagher family, Frank isn’t exactly the poster child for father of the year. The perpetually drunk (or, at the very least, tipsy) South Side Chicago native is a man only his family (and Macy... and Shamelessfans everywhere) could love. Macy gets that, and it’s what makes his job so challenging. “This is my take on Frank,” he says. “He’s smart, he’s funny, he’s got a wicked sense of humor. He sees the irony of life and so he holds things somewhat lightly, but he’s very hard-working, entrepreneurial, and dogged. He never gives up.”
RELATED: 'Shameless' Star Shanola Hampton Spills Season 3 Details
Of course, that’s not exactly what most people would say about Frank, who ended last season asleep in the Chicago snow after punching his son Ian (Cameron Monaghan) over a case of Old Style beer. “I like the guy. [Laughs] But at the same time, he’s deplorable,” says Macy. “If I do my job right [the audience] will have enough forgiveness in them and the next week they’ll tune in again.”
So the audience may continue to come back for more, but what about the Gallaghers themselves? At the end of Season 2, they seemed to have had it with Frank. But all is not lost — Fiona (Emmy Rossum) and Co. may be a wild bunch, but when it comes down to it, they’re family. “I happen to know the family is not done with Frank, nor will they ever be done with Frank,” Macy says. “As perplexing as it is, even to me, there’s a part of it I find very moving. We say blood is thicker than water and that family trumps all, but the Gallagher family is living proof of that."
And heading into Season 3, Frank faces a few additional challenges beyond his own addictions. “At the end of this next season, he’s got some health issues … he bears his health problems stoically,” Macy says.
So it seems, even Frank can figure it out when the straights become dire. Macy’s not hoping Frank gets it allfigured out though. “I’ve got the role of a lifetime," he says. "At first [my scenes] are uncomfortable and icky, but if I just [bring] up [my] courage and throw [myself] into the scene as Frank would do, oh boy, I feel like the king of the world."
NEXT: Don Cheadle and David Duchovny spill what's next.
House of Lies and Marty, King Con of The Corporate World
Sinful Sunday's youngest member is the sophomore series House of Lies, produced by and starring Cheadle as Marty Kaan, a leader in the ruthless, opportunistic world of management consulting. Together with the rest of his pod — or team of consultants — he swindles his way into deals with major corporations, but such a ruthless existence has its consequences outside of the office.
But those consequences have led to success for the network and Nevins, who boasts House of Lies as the “strongest comedy on our schedule, ratings-wise.” “It just feels like this show is starting to happen,” Nevins says. Even Macy admits he’s a fan, albeit a jealous one: “Cheadle is just great, but he should pay themto do that role,” he says. Indeed, Cheadle is enjoying the freedom of starring on a Showtime series. “There’s definitely a style of writing that appears on cable that definitely doesn’t happen anywhere else … definitely not on network television and unfortunately, not any more really in the movies, a lot of times,” Cheadle says.
According to the critically beloved actor, his series steps outside the boundaries of most other cable and pay-cable series. “I don’t know a lot of shows that deal with cross-gender kids and deal with parents and how to talk about that, and I don’t see a lot of [Marty’s son] Roscoe and not a lot of black leads in anything, so I think we were just able to stretch out in ways that are a little different,” Cheadle says.
Season 2 is also going to allow the characters themselves to stretch, now that the ordeal of explaining the giant world of management consulting has been dealt with in Season 1. “We’re getting to know everyone a little better,” he says. “We’re getting deeper and more nuanced … bringing in elements of race. [And] one of our characters deals directly with the Occupy [Wall Street] issue."
Of course, social politics add dimension, but fans of the show are likely waiting in fitful anticipation to see what happens between Marty and Jeannie (Kristen Bell) after last season's finale, during which she broke up with her fiance and the narrative hinted that it had something to do with her hooking up with Marty. Cheadle says Season 2 will have some serious work to do in sussing out what it all means for their relationship after their implied moment: “Well, we’re definitely trying to figure out what happened between Marty and Jeannie. Is this the start of something?”
After all, that's a question that lingered throughout the show's first season. The duo has spent 12 episodes flipping back and forth between potential romance and potential mutual destruction. “I think they clearly had this love, this strange dynamic between them of partners, and friends, and adversaries," Cheadle says. Of course, the actor won't tell us exactly where Marty and Jeannie will find themselves once they broach the love subject, or whether or not that hint in the season finale was a giant tease. We’re not that lucky.
Hank Moody, The Californicat-or
Last, but not least, comes Duchovny’s seasoned Showtime vet Hank Moody, the champion fornicator of Los Angeles. Over the five years we’ve known Hank, we’ve followed him through his life as a writer in Los Angeles: He wrote a book, taught some college classes, stood trial for statutory rape, wrote a movie for Rza of the Wu Tang Clan, and now, in Season 6, he will take a stab at writing a musical. Clearly, nothing is off limits for Hank. But, of course, despite Hank's many talents, his main draw will be the series' original peg: his apparent sex addiction.
Of course, as he embarks on year six of Moody’s chronicles, Duchovny wants to make it known that Hank is more than a rapscallion. “I tend not to think of [Hank] with one flaw, but as flawed. And by flawed, I mean human,” he says.
Despite his seemingly unwieldy life, Hank is always brought back to earth by some circumstance or consequence for his actions. It’s a cycle that works for him... and for Duchovny, who’s not looking to morph Hank into something he’s not to keep the show “fresh.” "I think it’s a temptation over a long-running series to try to reinvent the character, when in fact the character is the essence of the show,” Duchovny says. “If you change the character and reinvent it, you’re actually making a different show. As fun as it may be for the actor, it’s kind of a dissolution of the bond you’ve made with your audience,” he adds.
And that’s why, time and again, Hank goes through his own form of “reinvention,” according to Duchovny. “The touchstone for Hank instead of reinvention is to come back to the original relationship [with Karen and Becca]… It’s a rediscovery of what’s most important to the characters.”
Heading into Season 6, that’s exactly where we’ll find Hank, who’s just survived his crazy girlfriend’s attempted double suicide. “This year picks up with him getting physically better in the first episode,” Duchovny says.
If we know anything about Hank, it’s that he seems to be able to survive anything. And his reward, this year, is a little time with guest star Marilyn Manson, who Duchovny says got on the show by emailing with the creator Tom Kapinos. “[Manson’s] a fan of Hank’s and Hank’s a fan of Manson,” he says of the rocker’s two-episode stint in which he plays himself.
And while Duchovny’s excited about the guest star, he’s mostly excited to be back. “If we weren’t brought back, then that would have been the end of the show — Hank would have been killed by his crazy lover,” he says.
Luckily for Duchovny, and for his fans, Hank Moody doesn’t go down that easily.
Sinful Sundays … And Beyond
Sundays are loaded up with plenty of laughs and drama starting in winter, and the success of shows like Shameless, House of Lies, and Californication will only lead to more off-the-wall content on the network, like the upcoming Showtime series Ray Donovan, about a professional “fixer” for wealthy families, and Masters of Sex, about the pioneers of the science of human sexuality, airing sometime in 2013. “I feel an enormous sense of freedom and opportunity right now [because] the best people in the business want to be making shows on television," Nevins says. "We’re reaping the benefits."
Lucky for audiences, we all share in that bounty, too.
Follow Kelsea on Twitter
[Photo Credit: Showtime (6)]
From Our Partners:
Young Han Solo Movie: Dave Franco to Star? (Moviefone)
Justin Bieber Drug and Cheating Rumors?! (Vh1)